We have all heard the oracle's injunction, "Know Thyself". Two lesser known inscriptions read, "All things in moderation and nothing in excess," and "Thou Art". These statements are the foundation of theurgy.
The truth of this statement is obvious. It is also so ubiquitous that we can fool ourselves into believing we know ourselves. It isn't enough to say, "I like baseball." One has to be know why, I like baseball because it is non-violent physical competition that requires one to think things through in advance while reacting in the moment. How is that important? Violence, save the preservation of self or others, is not conducive to my soul. I value testing myself and improving, which is required in sport. I admire the virtue of thinking a bit ahead, of anticipating the possible scenarios and then dealing with what actually happens. I can see that when I do that, my skills are admired and when I do not, I am challenged.
Would I not be better off emotionally (at least) if I lived a life that incorporated, not baseball, but activities that contain, what I feel, are the virtues of the game?
Internalizing our external likes (in my case baseball) allows us to understand our valued virtues and recreate them. Brandon Myers speaks of friends of convenience versus friends of virtue. The former are those we are forced to meet, at work, socially and the like with whom we get along. These friendships can grow to be valued and supportive but they will fade. Friends of virtue are those people that share our virtues. For instance, I am a theurigist. Theurgy requires a level of introspection, lack of perpetual denial and a desire to grow spiritually. People that possess these traits share my virtues and thus the bonds that form are much stronger and can last a lifetime. This can be applied across the board in life.
When we test these insights, we can find valuable clues as to the nature of our souls. I have long stated that we have to live within our virtues as they are the boundaries of our greater neschemah. So, from the above, the traits of my soul include, self-challenging, anticipatory thinking, proper reaction, introspection, willingness to admit error (and thus be self-adjusting) and spiritual growth, the latter being harder to define every day.
Those that read this space will look at that and say, "Well you didn't do that here or that there." Of course! Knowing one's virtues is not the same as being constantly able to live each one.
All Things in Moderation and Nothing in Excess
At first blush, I thought this was another way of saying one must be in balance. Instead, it is an instruction manual of sorts.
I posted not long ago of drinking an entire bottle of wine. As rarely as I drink, that is a lot of alcohol. Yet, it was the perfect amount that night in order to usher through a moment of clarity. One another occasion, a single glass can be an excess.
This injunction forces us to think things through quite deeply. We all know that too much of anything is bad by definition. We can also deny ourselves too strongly and have experienced too little because of too much self-judgement, insecurity, or religiously motivated austerity.
What is too much for you may be not enough for another. The process of determining what is too much or too little is very personal. Yet the exercise narrows us into a set of behaviors that is again conducive to the nature of our souls.
Those that are, truly Are, live within the nature of their souls. This is a narrow set of parameters for the individual but widely various over the scope of humanity. Some are meant to be monks that are hidden away, others outrageously flamboyant and the rest of us fall along the scale. It isn't where you fall on the scale in relation to another but living, thinking, being and expressing within the glorious and freeing confines of your soul.
This is a truly powerful place to be. One is unassailable, in a sense, but that word does Being little justice. Being, is continually unfolding in perfect accord with one's soul-nature. Being such allows us, with little effort, to live a life of tikkun olam (world repair).
I recently heard it described this way. If all the lights in Madison Square Garden were turned off, a single match could be seen by all. True enough but we live in a lighted world. We are not meant to be seen by all but by those whose inner darkness is so severe that they need a bit of light to reorientate themselves to their inner nature and thus G-d.
Be the match that few see.